Brooke Skylar Richardson faces multiple charges, including aggravated murder, gross abuse of a corpse and child endangerment

By Steve Helling
August 15, 2019 12:35 PM

The former cheerleader accused of burying the remains of her newborn baby wants all charges against her to be dropped.

Brooke Skylar Richardson, now 20, is charged in Ohio with aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, gross abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and child endangerment. She has pleaded not guilty.

In a motion filed on August 1, Richardson’s attorneys sought to have all charges dismissed. At issue: whether the baby’s remains had been burned before burial. A forensic anthropologist initially claimed that the bones had been charred — but later seemed to recant that assertion.

In an email exchange with a forensic pathologist, Dr. Elizabeth Murray wrote that “whether the bones were burned or not, that baby was still dead, had unexplained skull fractures, and was buried the backyard. I don’t understand why the burning takes it up such a notch.”

The defense claims that the charges should be dropped due to the changing assertion about if the body was burned.

But the prosecution argues that the debate over the burned remains “certainly [does] not negate evidence that Richardson caused they death of her baby, created a substantial risk of health or safety to her baby, or buried her baby.”

Charles Rittgers

The case began to unfold in July 2017, when a doctor told police that Richardson may have delivered a stillborn baby. Police searched the family’s property where they said they found the remains of a newborn girl in Richardson’s backyard — then arrested the teen on multiple charges.

Prosecutors allege that Richardson did not want to be an 18-year-old single mom with college only a few months in the future. In the months after learning of her pregnancy, Richardson didn’t return for an ultrasound, bloodwork or any other treatment, while ignoring calls from the doctor and assistants, prosecutors have said.

But Richardson’s defense attorneys argued that the baby was stillborn and didn’t meet the legal criteria to be considered a child.

Warren County Sheriff's Office

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Richardson’s attorneys have repeatedly admitted she buried the child’s remains in her parents’ backyard — but they say she only did so after the baby was stillborn and she didn’t know what to do with the remains.

Another pretrial hearing will be held on August 19. Her trial is scheduled to begin on September 3.